News Feature | December 12, 2014

HL7 Advancing FHIR

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Healthcare IT News For VARs — January 30, 2015

The Argonaut Project is designed to accelerate the development and adoption of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources.

Health Level 7 International (HL7) has announced the launch of the Argonaut Project, the joining together of members in 55 countries to address the recommendations of the JASON Task Force in accelerating the development and adoption of HL7s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), according to a press release.

The release describes HL7’s FHIR as, “A next generation standards framework that leverages the latest web standards and applies a tight focus on implementation,” and explains, “Its versatility can be applied to mobile devices, web-based applications, cloud communications, and HER data-sharing using modular components.”

The goal of the initiative is to hasten current FHIR development efforts in order to create practical and focused guidelines and profiles for FHIR by the spring of 2015, Health Data Management reports.

“Our national health IT policy has always focused on the adoption of private sector-led standards,” Annesh Chopra, former U.S. chief technology officer for the Obama Administration noted in the release. “Today’s acceleration initiative draws on that collaborative spirit and will translate into better technologies to support better healthcare for patients and providers.”

Leveraging the latest web standards, FHIR has experienced increased momentum as an open healthcare data standard, leading to the recommendation by JASON Task Force that the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT mobilize an accelerated standards development process to ready an initial specification of FHIR for certification to support Meaningful Use Stage 3.

JASON Task Force co-chair Micky Tripathi, CEO and president of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, noted in the release that the initiative, “Shows that private industry is now able to collectively and collaboratively play the lead role in rationalizing and modernizing nationwide healthcare interoperability, just as it has in other sectors of the economy.” To demonstrate his support, Tripathi committed his organization to the role of project manager for Project Argonaut.

Other participants in the collaboration include: athenahealth, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Cerner, Epic, Intermountain Healthcare, Mayo Clinic, MEDITECH, McKesson, Partners HealthCare System, SMART at the Boston Children’s Hospital Informatics Program, and the Advisory Board Company.

“In 2014, there has been a perfect storm of alignment among government, industry, academia, provider organizations and innovators that FHIR is our best opportunity to accelerate interoperability. At this point in history we have an unprecedented opportunity to apply additional resources and focus, producing a simple, consensus-based implementation guide for query/response transactions in healthcare using the same type of technologies that Facebook, Google, and Amazon have already implemented at scale,” explained John Halamka, M.D., CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and co-chair of the HIT Standards Committee in the release.

“We are not creating a new organization to do this work; instead we are all unifying around HL7 as an ANSI-accredited standards development organization to deliver what we all need,” Halamka said.